Arsene Wenger claimed that Paul Scholes was a dirty player, with an unfair approach to the game and possessed a dark side.

RoM published statistics showing that Scholes is far from a dirty player. Nobody is saying he’s never made a bad tackle, nobody is claiming he has never made a cynical challenge, but Wenger’s accusations implied a far more sinister characteristic in Scholes. There’s a difference between saying someone isn’t a good tackler of the ball and saying someone has a “dark side” and claiming they’re not a fair player.

When you think of dirty player, you think Patrick Vieira, Roy Keane, Dennis Wise, Kevin Davies, Lee Boywer etc. Players who pick up lots of fouls, lots of yellow cards and get sent off a lot. Players who are always in their opponents face, who are confrontational and always leaving their boot in.

As a central midfielder, Scholes is going to commit fouls and pick up yellow cards, but his record for both is reasonable. Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Tony Adams and Alan Shearer, amongst others, who have all played against Scholes, have done nothing but sing his praises. If Scholes does have a dark side, if he is a dirty player, then it’s not hard to imagine that these players would give less growing reports of someone who, if Wenger is right, would have kicked them about.

Arsenal fans flooded the blog and claimed that Scholes gets away with a lot because he is English. They claim because of his likeable and honest persona he is more likely to get away without punishment, unlike their foreign players. I hasten to add, this claim was not Wenger’s. He did not say Scholes gets away with more fouls than other players, he said that Scholes has a dark side.

So, RoM have compared Scholes’ fouls, bookings, and average yellow cards per foul against Arsenal players. As you would expect, the claims of Arsenal fans are completely unsubstantiated, but we wouldn’t want silly things like facts to get in the way of  good argument, would we?

2009/2010

1. Paul Scholes
Fouls: 30
Yellow cards: 9
Fouls per card: 3

2. Emmanuel Eboue
Fouls: 16
Yellow cards: 4
Fouls per card: 4

3. Alex Song
Fouls: 51
Yellow cards: 10
Fouls per card: 5

4. Cesc Fabregas
Fouls: 30
Yellow cards: 5
Fouls per card: 6

5. Vassiriki Diaby
Fouls: 49
Yellow cards: 2
Fouls per card: 25

2008/2009

1. Cesc Fabregas
Fouls: 33
Yellow cards: 7
Fouls per card: 5

2. Paul Scholes
Fouls: 17
Yellow cards: 3
Fouls per card: 6

3. Alex Song
Fouls: 44
Yellow cards: 6
Fouls per card: 7

4. Robin van Persie
Fouls: 46
Yellow cards: 5
Fouls per card: 9

5. Denilson
Fouls: 57
Yellow cards: 3
Fouls per card: 19

2007/2008

1. Cesc Fabregas
Fouls: 29
Yellow cards: 9
Fouls per card: 3

2. Gael Clichy
Fouls: 39
Yellow cards: 6
Fouls per card: 7

3. Paul Scholes
Fouls: 31
Yellow cards: 3
Fouls per card: 10

4. Mathieu Flamini
Fouls: 56
Yellow cards: 5
Fouls per card: 11

5. Emmanuel Adebayor
Fouls: 57
Yellow cards: 3
Fouls per card: 19

2006/2007

1. Kolo Toure
Fouls: 27
Yellow cards: 6
Fouls per card: 5

1. Paul Scholes
Fouls: 43
Yellow cards: 8
Fouls per card: 5

3. Cesc Fabregass
Fouls: 45
Yellow cards: 7
Fouls per card: 6

2005/2006

1. Lauren
Fouls: 30
Yellow cards: 6
Fouls per card: 5

2. Jose Antonio Reyes
Fouls: 41
Yellow cards: 5
Fouls per card: 8

2. Paul Scholes
Fouls: 25
Yellow cards: 3
Fouls per card: 8

4. Cesc Fabregas
Fouls: 44
Yellow cards: 5
Fouls per card: 9

5. Gilberto
Fouls: 55
Yellow cards: 5
Fouls per card: 11

2004/2005

1. Ashley Cole
Fouls: 36
Yellow cards: 7
Fouls per card: 5

2. Patrick Vieira
Fouls: 89
Yellow cards: 9
Fouls per card: 10

3. Paul Scholes
Fouls: 44
Yellow cards: 4
Fouls per card: 11

4. Thierry Henry
Fouls: 24
Yellow cards: 2
Fouls per card: 12

5. Dennis Bergkamp
Fouls: 30
Yellow cards: 1
Fouls per card: 30

2003/2004

1. Lauren
Fouls: 31
Yellow cards: 5
Fouls per card: 6

1. Ray Parlour
Fouls: 43
Yellow cards: 7
Fouls per card: 6

1. Paul Scholes
Fouls: 31
Yellow cards: 5
Fouls per card: 6

4. Patrick Vieira
Fouls: 93
Yellow cards: 10
Fouls per card: 9

5. Sol Campbell
Fouls: 43
Yellow cards: 2
Fouls per card: 22

6. Gilberto
Fouls: 50
Yellow cards: 2
Fouls per card: 25

2002/2003

1. Thierry Henry
Fouls: 54
Yellow cards: 8
Fouls per card: 7

2. Patrick Vieira
Fouls: 45
Yellow cards: 6
Fouls per card: 8

3. Paul Scholes
Fouls: 39
Yellow cards: 4
Fouls per card: 10

4. Ray Parlour
Fouls: 42
Yellow cards: 4
Fouls per card: 11

5. Gilberto
Fouls: 47
Yellow cards: 0
Fouls per card: 47 and counting…

2001/2002

1. Paul Scholes
Fouls: 33
Yellow cards: 9
Fouls per card: 4

2. Lauren
Fouls: 42
Yellow cards: 8
Fouls per card: 5

3. Ray Parlour
Fouls: 50
Yellow cards: 7
Fouls per card: 7

4. Patrick Vieira
Fouls: 86
Yellow cards: 11
Fouls per card: 8

5. Dennis Bergkamp
Fouls: 37
Yellow cards: 2
Fouls per card: 19

2000/2001

1. Patrick Vieira
Fouls: 65
Yellow cards: 6
Fouls per card: 11

1. Thierry Henry
Fouls: 43
Yellow cards: 4
Fouls per card: 11

3. Martin Keown
Fouls: 35
Yellow cards: 3
Fouls per card: 12

4. Paul Scholes
Fouls: 43
Yellow cards: 3
Fouls per card: 14

5. Dennis Bergkamp
Fouls: 40
Yellow cards: 2
Fouls per card: 20

In 2009/2010, Scholes was given a booking for every three fouls. This would support an argument that Scholes is a poor tackler of the ball (it can’t prove intention though) but would disprove the idea that Scholes gets away with fouls unpunished.

However, in 2007/2008, Fabregas was given a booking for every three fouls. So, is he a poor tackler of the ball? Does he have a dark side? Or is he victimised by referees?

Then we can look at Scholes in 04/05, he was given a yellow card on average for every 11 fouls he committed. So does this mean he just happened to get away with his “dark” and “dirty” side that season?

Fabregas in 05/06 picked up a yellow per 9 fouls. So does this mean he’s a clean player? Or that referees this season didn’t victimise him?

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say Scholes is dirty for frequently picking up yellow cards one season, then when he doesn’t frequently pick up yellow cards, claim that’s because the referees let him get away with it that season.

A far more sensible conclusion would be that central midfielders make a lot of challenges and that it stands to reason some of those are going to poor. Scholes isn’t a great tackler of the ball and that is a reputation he carries now, and if anything, my opinion would be this makes him more likely to pick up yellow cards and fouls because the referees are expecting it. Just like referees expected Robert Pires and Cristiano Ronaldo to dive and let more fouls on them go.

Regardless, for Wenger to claim that Scholes has a “dark side” and therefore intentionally goes about trying to hurt people, implies something sinister in our midfielder that I don’t believe to be there. Whilst it’s very nice he spends considerable time praising him, I think it lacks in class to level such an accusation at Scholes. If Scholes has a dark side, Diaby, Song, Vieira, etc. are the devil!




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